THE UK Government is being accused of trying to “pull the wool over everyone’s eyes” with claims that a points-based system (PBS) for immigration – similar to that in Australia – will allow the UK to welcome talented people from all over the world.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is charged with enacting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s shake-up of the country’s immigration system, said the Government was determined to make Britain the “greatest country on Earth” as she told of her immediate plans for a tougher immigration policy – with or without a Brexit deal.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday in what read like a Tory party political broadcast script, Patel said: “An Australian-style points-based system will allow us to welcome talented individuals from all over the world.”
However, her comments came under attack from a leading immigration lawyer and the SNP.
Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s immigration spokesperson at Westminster, said: “The Tories’ hostile approach to immigration is a disaster for Scotland – threatening to send our working age population into decline, and cause serious harm to our NHS, public services, and key industries across our economy.
“Scrapping our vital freedom of movement rights won’t just make Scotland poorer but it will also take away opportunities for future generations, who will not have the same rights to live, study and work freely across Europe.
“Westminster is not working for Scotland. It is vital that powers are now devolved to the Scottish Parliament so we can get on and build an immigration system that meets Scotland’s specific needs and values – to the benefit of everyone.”
Lawyer Usman Aslam, from the Glasgow firm McGlashan MacKay, criticised the UK Government’s immigration white paper, published last December, which he said was confusing. He told The National: “I struggle to see what this constant referral to the Australian PBS is about … we already have a PBS, that is not without its problems.”
He highlighted the cap on the number of skilled worker visas, the ever-changing shortage occupation list and the minimum salary issue, which was putting off both employers and employees.
“The Tory government always go on about how they want only skilled workers, however, on the other hand they make it so difficult for skilled workers through a PBS,” he said. “The evidential requirements are so specified that so many cannot meet the stringent tests.
“This is all but the same as the Australian PBS, so it is confusing as to why the Tory government are trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.
“The real danger in having a PBS is the arguable discrimination that can come with it.
“For example, assessing someone’s age in a Tier 5 category that we currently have. What can be benefited from stopping someone, for example, over 31 contributing to the UK?”